I recently came across this account of how methods used in the Mankind Project activities (New Warriors Training Adventure and Integration Groups) might stimulate participants to reconstruct memories of abuse. It is long so I am going to post a link to the document with excerpts here. I have permission from the author who wishes to remain anonymous at this time.
The personal account begins:
It started at my NWTA at the carpet work. MKP leaders had me “kill” my father in a process to deal with physical abuse I got as a child. At the end of this process, a MKP leader said to me, “…and you were sexually abused too!” I immediately said to myself, “I was never sexually abused. What is this guy talking about?”
Just a few months later I believed that not only was I sexually abused, but that I was sexually abused by 3 different males, at different periods of time, for multiple instances throughout my entire childhood. All of this while having NO memory of sexual abuse before joining MKP!
The rest of the article describes the “bucketing process” which I described earlier via a citation from a MKP manual. According to this individual, the process of “memory” recovery is aided by the emotive techniques and suggestions from the leaders. There are some statements in this article that I cannot verify as yet (e.g., one of the founders is a gestalt therapist, the APA has all but banned “rebirthing”) but I post this because the experiences described here sound very much like what are described in the NWTA manuals and accounts from other witnesses with whom I have spoken. I know I have posted this before, but this You Tube clip of Rage Therapy seems quite relevant to this man’s account.
6 thoughts on “Mankind Project and Recovered Memories”
I am sorry this happened. I am surprised with so many therapists in MKP why this went on. And I wonder if it still occurs. Part of the problem is men who are traumatized by the work are often in such a regression afterwords it is difficult to advocate for oneself. And when attempting to hold people accountable because one is in a vulnerable state a man becomes the designated “weak one”, “sick one” etc. But there is equal “sickness” in sadistic grandiosity. And it is ignored. If MKP values “accountability” as much as they say they do they should acess these stories and incidents and own publicaly that harm has been done, and change their processes. The only way I see positive change is if MKP decides unilaterally to stop allowing untrained therapists the use of these tools. To stop believing in the “Hurry up and Heal” philosophy. doctors take the oath “Do no Harm” these men do not.
I appreciate your sharing your experience. I had a similar one and would very much like to talk about it some time. Perhaps the sysop can connect us if you feel so inclined.
I went through NWTA in 1996, and am only now realizing I experienced a profound trauma around the so-called “rebirthing” or “birth canal” process.
The short version is, after having exhausted myself with other techniques, having been the first man out on the carpet, about a half hour in the facilitator insists that I do this thing where I’m held down.
I talk my way out of it, but am traumatized both by the feelings of oncoming terror, and by the fact that after my work was done, I am told, “You were almost there” – which framed my weekend, making me feel I had not been properly initiated.
Further, other NW acted like the problem was all mine.
I developed an obsession with being held down which lasted a year. Then, miraculously, the trauma healed without doing it.
But this has been a vicious obsession. In 2000, I was traumatized by a sexual assault, and the immediate response of my psyche was, “I’ve got to go find some guys to hold me down, so I can get over this.”
I stayed in that loop off and on for the past decade.
I just reread this statement I wrote a year ago and your reply. At the time that all of this was occuring I was willing and eager to “get better” and I did not blame MKP for the retraumatization, I was angry at certain individuals in the organization. It was only after therapy that I began to realize that really the institution at large is accountable as well. There were some supportive loving men, there were also men who thought they knew what was best for me and everybody else, and the vaste majority had no training as a psychotherapist. Remember that Vince Lambardo PBS episode of his experiment imprisoning college students, where the guards unexpectedly became sadistic, this is similar. Only men were lead to act out sadistic tendencies they followed leaders who modeled it.
So as far as bringing a lawsuit against MKP it actually never occurred to me. But before I left I saw more of the abusive behavior I described and began protesting. Even warning that this retraumatization can result in bad effects like abusing family members, homicide, or suicide. Which was dismissed. Then the Scinto tragedy occured years later after I left.
I believed in the institution and wanted to believe because I wanted support and community. But the level of denial in MKP is very high. I do not doubt that many men have gained some benefit from this work. I have gained dome insight.
But I question the human cost and MKP’s denial that they may be accountable for retraumatizing others in a negative way. I do not know how MKP is today, many changes have occured including addressing group bullying, and abuse, an ethics policy, multicultural initiatives etc.
But even with these changes I consider MKP willfully NAIVE and in perpetual denial of the thing they don’t call therapy.
Matt – Did you bring suit against MKP for any of this?
Yes, this accurately describes some MKP processes. But what is worse is MKP more often than not does not have trained therapists supervising. Often completely untrained or inadequately trained men horde together in a group abuse of a single man. MKP says often feelings are welcome here. But when a man reveals any form of affect, fear, grief, vulnerability, they are pressured to participate in these processes. Which amounts to bullying of the most vulnerable men in the groups. For the men occupying the role of leader or bully or both it’s “Great” but for those who are subjected to this form of abuse it is traumatizing. When I started MKP I had a fulltime job in my career, was nominated by a national organization as a young leader in America, was engaged to be married, had a savings etc. Within a year I was in a mental instution for a week, was diagnosed with PTSD, lost my job, my fiancée, and my dignity. I spent the next four years in therapy reversing the damage. I am utterly shocked by MKP’s denial of these facts. Many men have had seriously negative effects. But what is more is when I reported these issues I was constantly given the run around: it was your own fault, don’t throw the baby out with the bath
water, or it sounds like you have more bucketing to do. These men are in a group trance and are in denial of the truth of the negative impact this work has had on many of the men.
Abuse memories are really touchy. Any sort of pushing when in a vulnerable state is a form of powerful suggestion. I’ve done rebirthing and it can be wonderful – if there’s no agenda and no pushing.
Loving Awareness – on compassion in sexual abuse
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